This is going to be the first of a series of blog posts introducing you to ways that you can participate in some way with DNN. You don’t need to be technical, a programmer, or a graphic designer to participate. You can be ANYONE. Participation is the cornerstone to any community and our community is larger than most. Our community is also geared around open source software, giving us numerous ways to participate. Since the ways to participate have become so broad even over the last couple of years, I thought it might be worth pointing them all out for those of you that might like to do so.
Open source only benefits you and everyone else if someone participates. If you have ever read, downloaded, shared, or otherwise interacted with any DotNetNuke content before don’t forget the most important thing… Someone before you participated in the community to help you answer that question, learn about an issue, or figure out how to create something. Without your participation, the community will never be as great as it could be!
Finally, it’s worth noting that participation in an open source community is incredibly rewarding. You will undoubtedly meet people that you never thought you would. You will build long lasting relationships with people across various borders and bodies of water. Many of these relationships will end up being lucrative for you at some point as well. I wouldn’t be able to write this blog post and you most certainly wouldn’t be reading it had I not been a direct recipient of those rewards due to my participation. This is why I made this the topic of my keynote speech in the last Southern Fried DNN conference.
Participate is a great word. It simply means to “take part.” At least that’s what Google told me when I did a search for the term. Take part is itself pretty ambiguous. We take part in all kinds of things everyday. We tell our co-workers about the latest movie. We bring friends to our favorite restaurants or bars. We throw weekend gatherings with food (and hopefully delicious BBQ). We put together baby showers, bachelor(ette), and birthday parties. We might even make a dessert for the office. There are all kinds of things that require anything from minimal effort to a full blown loss of productivity. Remember that last retweet or the last time you updated your resume? Sometimes we can participate in something simply by clicking.
The first method of participation that I want to focus on is social media. No matter who you are, it’s in your face and even if you run away from it – you just can’t seem to avoid it. It’s everywhere. You see it in commercials, videos, flyers, conferences, your drink cups, billboards, and it’s even built in to pretty much every smart phone these days. It’s now deeply woven into the society that most of us live in. #Hashtags are even being used in messenger apps, emails, and text messages, even though they have no function or other use being there. It’s become just one more way that we communicate – another form of communication if you will. It’s our new “LOL.”
There’s numerous social networks and most of us use them for varying purposes and have different audiences on each of then. A great example is the obvious one – Facebook. Nearly everyone seems to be on it these days, but most of us keep only our close friends and family on it and stray away from mixing business with pleasure so to speak. This form of participation is not meant to ask you to do anything you’re not comfortable with. Quite the opposite, actually.
Share where and how you want to… I am going to go through a few of the more popular social networks in North America, but these tips should translate to your respective region of the World as well if you don’t live in “the states.”
If you see anything cool or noteworthy about DNN, feel free to pass it along to your followers on the social networks that you feel would appreciate it. If you see someone else share something that resonates with you, re-share their post or update. If you need help and prefer to ask for it in one of these places, go ahead and ask a question. You’ll get an answer, I’m sure. If you know the answer, there’s no reason why you can’t chime in and respond with your answer as well.
The easiest thing you could possible do though is like the post. It’s just a click, and you just participated!
When using Twitter and Google+, be sure to hashtag #DotNetNuke, #DNN, #CMS, or #DNNSocial as appropriate.
On Facebook, it’s not as easy to tag content, but you can write on the DotNetNuke Facebook page.
Creating videos is something that pretty much anyone can do these days. Whether you’re using a commercial or free screen capture utility, anyone can record their screen and create useful DNN videos for the community. You don’t have to create a live action commercial – but it would be cool if you did. Even a 5 minute video showing how you did something cool, reconfigured your site, or anything else will definitely be appreciated by a community member just like you. In fact, I’d argue that any videos longer than 5 minutes shouldn’t be made these days anyway.
You don’t have to be a video wiz to participate with videos either. Like, share, or comment on the videos. Let people know that you liked them or give them feedback on what you want.
If you want to create your own videos, here are a few free and paid tools that can help you.
If you see a blog post that has helped you with DNN or you think will help someone else, share it on any social network that you want. More importantly, leave a comment. As a blogger myself, it’s always rewarding to see a comment made on something I wrote. After all, writing a blog post takes time. We bloggers accept comments on our posts as a form of currency. The more comments we have, the more we feel rewarded for that time we spent writing instead of doing something else.
That was all of the easy stuff… But there’s always room for more bloggers to write about DNN. No topic is too simple. Everyone has a voice and perspective that someone else in our massive community would appreciate. Create a blog and write something!
There are so many blogging tools and options out there. This is not an endorsement at all, but here are just a couple of many. Try them for yourself.
Discover some new DNN blogs:
You could also add your own blog to the DNN Community Blogs above.
Did you know that there is a wiki on the DNN site? It’s full of so much DNN information. There is something for everyone too. You can read more about various content editing features and administrative functions. You can of course even learn more about creating skins (designs) for DNN or various types of extensions. But how can you participate?
Once again, you can share the wiki article you found on any of the social networks. You could even blog about the article. However, we are always looking for more content. Remember that you have a voice. Feel free to edit an existing wiki article or write a new one.
It doesn’t matter if you have DNN swag to show off, if you’re at a user group or conference, or if you’re literally taking pictures of a cool looking DNN site. Feel free to share here as well. Just be sure to tag DNN or DotNetNuke. The rest of the community loves to get insight into the various events and things that others are doing. Remember, not everyone has the luxury of going to DNN World, Day of DotNetNuke, user group meetings, or other community events.
Not everyone can check in at the DNN corporate office, DNN engineering office, or our office in Amsterdam. Although, we’d surely love to meet you. However, you may be visiting a user group meeting or attending any number of other DNN events. If you are, feel free to check in to that event. For example, a few of us were checking in at the last Day of DotNetNuke, called Southern Fried DNN. If the user group or event venue doesn’t exist, create the venue. It only takes a moment. Foursquare has apps built for pretty much every smart phone.
The final area I’ll talk about is probably the most interactive. There are a number of streaming services out there that allow you to live chat over a web cam or stream an event. It doesn’t matter if you’re streaming a user group meeting, DNN session at a code camp or conference, or if you’re simply doing a video chat room. You can be an attendee or host the video chat and interact with other community members. It could be your own virtual user group meeting of sorts. Those that attend would definitely appreciate it, even if it lasted for 10 minutes.
You don’t have to be an expert on anything to do this either. The tools make it simple to start and the people that attend make it valuable. Just make sure you spread the word that you’re doing this before and during the broadcast on the social networks that you use.
In closing, I just want to tell you that you don’t have to shoot for the stars. Start small. Try out one or two things and see how you like it. If you don’t, try another one. You have a voice and your voice empowers the community and the community will return that back to you. It’s a cyclical thing. We all feed off of each other and we get out of it what we put into it. At the end of the day, someone helped you out. Why not pay it forward and help someone else out in return? The more we each do this, the better, bigger, and more exciting our community will be. It all starts with you!